by Todd Anderson
The absence of two regulars at the Ottawa Senators practice today gave head coach Bryan Murray the opportunity to have a different look at his forward combinations. Peter Schaefer missed practice because of a shoulder injury suffered yesterday in Chicago, and Chris Kelly left the ice early because of a sore wrist.
Today's lines featured: Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Brian McGrattan; Oleg Saprykin, Mike Fisher and Daniel Alfredsson; Antoine Vermette, Mike Comrie and Patrick Eaves; and Christoph Schubert, Dean McAmmond and Chris Neil.
Murray spoke about the chance of those combinations being used tomorrow when the Senators host the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"As I told the guys today, I don't know if these are the lines by any means. I think it's really important that they are flexible because of the type of team we have. They can play left or right wing on occasions. They can play with McAmmond one shift and Fisher another. I really think we need that kind of ability. Because of the stretch drive, you do have people missing (from the lineup) on occasion."
Saprykin, who scored his first goal as a Senator while playing his natural left-wing position yesterday in Chicago, enjoys having the opportunity to lining up on that side of the ice.
"I've played left all my life and I'm more comfortable there," he says. "It's always nice to get your first goal, but getting one goal doesn't make you anything. You do what you can to help your team win, it's all about winning right now."
If Schaefer or Kelly aren't able to play tomorrow; Eaves is expected to be back in the lineup.
"I don't know what the status is of everyone," Eaves says. "We have a couple of guys with sore bodies, but I guess at this time of year that's pretty normal. We'll just see what coach wants tomorrow. I had a good practice today and I'm ready to go."
Eaves adds that it doesn't matter who he'll have as linemates, if he does play.
"We've had guys move around all year, that's just the way we are as a team."
After scoring his first goal in 14 games on Sunday, Vermette looks to contribute more consistently.
"It's definitely a boost of confidence," Vermette said of yesterday's goal. "You have a little more jump. The puck hasn't been going in as much, but it will."
Murray said he noticed a difference in Vermette during practice today.
"I watched him shooting today and I was kidding with him because he was starting to hit corners and do things again. He's one of the players we have to get points from. He has to score some goals for us to have a chance on a regular basis."
Ray Emery will start in goal tomorrow against the Penguins.